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Man's Best Friend
We wonder how such a magnificently awful film escaped world-wide notoriety, but perhaps by 1993, the year Man's Best Friend was released, Information Overload had become potent enough to gloss over the theatrical release of an R-rated, pre-teen romantic comedy about a genetically modified killer super-dog with acidic urine. Also, it stars Ally Sheedy.
I think my work here is done.
After a few minutes I begin to wonder if Man's Best Friend isn't a Tobe Hooper joint, it's that inept. We're introduced to Ally Sheedy with a ‘90s power-hairdo, as an investigative reporter (Ally, not the hairdo) looking into animal cruelty at a test facility. Somehow Max, a genetically modified super-dog, gets free. Max is intelligent, strong, can climb trees like a leopard and so much more! Max's dad Lance Henriksen, his engineer if you will, is super mad about his escape, and even more-so to find Snoopy Sheedy has adopted the scientific mutt.
Marketing sold Man's Best Friend as a horror-thriller; "move over, Cujo" and such, but it's hard to establish fear when you keep wanting to ask the monster "who's a good boy?" As a viewer, the part of my brain still working desperately wants to turn this movie off, while the critical part of me wonders why this movie wasn't buried during the story development stage. And yet, as excruciating as it is, the movie does have its pleasures, such as when the goofy paper boy watches Max climb a tree to swallow a house-cat whole. (This is one of the more egregious special effects sections; Max climbs the tree in the same way Adam West climbs buildings in the Batman TV series, before a grossly distended hand-puppet gulps the feline.)
It's hard to understand how so many different genres could be mashed into one movie, but no mistake, this movie sucks no matter the director's intent. It's one of the stupidest movies I've ever seen. It's like all the crappiest movies of the early ‘90s had a big orgy and the resulting output was this nightmare baby. If I were to provide a pull-quote for the DVD case, the best I could do would be to say "It doesn't appear to be a spoof."
Man's Best Friend does include a late-stage appearance by William Sanderson, as a sketchy junkyard owner, that really pulls the movie together. Sanderson's mien is unique in the cinema world. One wonders what he's like in real life. Does he pull that magical realism naivete routine on the sommelier while out to dinner?
Whatever the case, Man's Best Friend somehow slipped through the cracks. As one of the worst, most-misguided movie mash-ups ever, it managed to flee the building before anyone noticed it. In that, fans of bad cinema should be delighted by this release. Or rather, only Ally Sheedy devotees or masochists should apply. On second thought, only masochistic Ally Sheedy fans should check it out. Or not. But! If you like ‘the crap' and you haven't seen this yet, it's Highly Recommended.
Man's Best Friend charges out of the cage in a new 2k scan of the original film elements, at a 1.85:1 ratio. This is an great presentation of a not-too-old movie that looks pretty good on Blu-ray, with a mild amount of tasteful film-grain, no damage to be seen, and decent mastering. Details are what you'd want in the mid and foreground, not too crisp, but well-defined. Black levels are deep and hold detail well, too. Colors appear fairly natural and well-saturated. On the whole, Sheedy looks great and as cute as ever. I mean, the film looks great.
Your Audio options are English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, or English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD Master Audio. The 5.1 mix is very robust, with a fairly wide dynamic range, if not a terribly wide soundscape. There is some dimensionality, but most of the action is front and center, with clean, clear dialog, and an appropriate mix between elements. The soundtrack also sounds great, which is a pity since it leans heavily on the comedic elements of a situation comedy.
Extras include a Reversible Cover and auto-play Trailers that highlight Warner Brothers' struggles to market the movie properly. (Hint: there was no way to market this movie properly.) The main extra, of course, is a Commentary Track from writer/director John Lafia. Lafia has a lot to answer for with Man's Best Friend, unfortunately he plays things fairly straight in this track, while leaving lots of gaps in the commentary.
As one of the worst, most-misguided movie mash-ups ever, Man's Best Friend managed to flee the building before anyone noticed it. Ostensibly a horror-thriller about a killer super-dog, scripting and direction throw in equal amounts of romantic comedy and a tone that's suited more for a Nickelodeon kid's show than an R-rated movie. In that, fans of bad cinema should be delighted by this release. Or rather, only fans of lead actor Ally Sheedy, or masochists, should apply. On second thought, only masochistic Ally Sheedy fans should check it out. Or not. But! If you like ‘the crap' and you haven't seen this yet, it's Highly Recommended.
- Kurt Dahlke